The P-8 Poseidon is a Navy plane currently helping to search for debris and the black box from the missing Malaysian Airlines plane. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Navy P-8 Poseidon Is a Modified Boeing 737
The Aviationist explains that the Poseidon is a derivative of a Boeing 737. The Poseidon, designed by Boeing, differs from the 737 in several key ways. The Poseidon is a patrol aircraft that contains amplified sensors for radar and ESM (Electronic Support Measures). These sensors enable the plane to complete ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions for the Navy. The Poseidon is also designed for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare.
2. P-8 Poseidon Holds Just 9 Crewmembers
Just got off US Navy Poseidon searching for debris from #MH370. We were diverted to debris field & dropped to 200 feet to search. No sign
— Bill Neely (@BillNeelyNBC) March 24, 2014
According to Fox News, the Poseidon runs on a crew of just nine people. Fox News outlines the aircraft’s key specs:
“The P-8A has the fuselage of a 737-800 and the wings of a 737-900. Its two engines are made by CFM International and provide about 27,000 pounds of takeoff thrust each.
At 130 feet long and with a wingspan of 124 feet, it can travel 564 miles per hour. The aircraft’s range is greater than 1,200 nautical miles, and it has a flight ceiling of 41,000 feet.
The Poseidon is a team effort from Boeing partners, including Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.
Raytheon provides Poseidon’s MK 54 lightweight torpedo and the AN/APY-10 radar that gives it all-weather, day and night multi-mission surveillance capabilities over land, sea and rivers.”
3. Poseidon Displays ‘Major Deficiencies’
According to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the Pentagon’s weapons tester found “major deficiencies” in the aircraft, outlined below:
“Flaws in the $35 billion program included the plane’s radar performance, sensor integration and data transfer, Michael Gilmore, chief of the Pentagon testing office, wrote in his annual report on major weapons, which has yet to be released. He said the new P-8A Poseidon exhibited ‘all of the major deficiencies’ identified in earlier exercises when subjected to more stressful realistic combat testing from September 2012 to March 2013.
‘Many of these deficiencies’ led Gilmore to determine that the P-8A ‘is not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search,’ he said in a section of the report obtained by Bloomberg News. The Navy plans to conduct additional testing ‘to verify the correction of some deficiencies,’ he wrote.”
4. U.S. Is Not the Only Country Flying Poseidon Aircraft
In the image above, crew members on board a P-8A Poseidon sit at their workstations.
According to Aviation International News, the Indian Navy also flies Poseidon aircraft. However, the 737-variant flown by the Indian Navy is called the P-8I Neptune, not the P-8 Poseidon. The two planes are quite similar.
The aviation website Flight Global notes that the P-8I will eventually replace the Tupolev Tu-142 aircraft in India’s service.
5. US Navy’s Poseidon Is Top Secret, Scanning Ocean Near Australia
In the image above, Lt. Joshua Mize, completes pre-flight checks. Mize is a tactical coordinator assigned a P-8A Poseidon, assisting with the search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
ABC News reports that the Poseidon plane is so sophisticated, “civilians’ cameras were confiscated so photos could not be taken on board.”
Poseidon is currently being used to look for evidence of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. ABC News writes:
“The Poseidon had enough fuel to scan for three hours and cover 4,100 square miles before having to begin the three hour trip back to its base north of Perth, Australia…
The search area is so remote that it took the Poseidon three hours of flying to arrive over the area part way to the South Pole and 1,300 miles west of Australia.”
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